The safety and charm of Morocco
Morocco is an amazing place. It is exotic, colorful, and mysterious. No matter how often we visit, we find something new to discover every one of those times. I have taken the trip more often than most people, but I still find the place fascinating. As a mom, I find it comforting to know that my children (whatever their ages at the time of travel) will always be safe.
The reason for this is that Moroccans love children. No matter what, no harm will ever come to a child. Moroccans will put down their lives to save a stranger’s offspring. In general, however, traveling with children to Morocco only adds to the adventure. As a result, I am constantly taking luxury tours of Morocco.
Moroccan luxuries for all ages
It is up to you and your comfort level of your child’s age before you take them with you on a trip to Morocco. My older son was about 2 1/2 years old when we first brought him there, and my other son was 4 on his first trip. I think both were suitable ages based on their personality and temperament. My older son was and still is very mature and serious for his age, so even at 2 ½, he was a little old man. But he sure did enjoy the trip.
His interaction with the camels was heart-melting. We had some orange rinds from the fresh-squeezed oranges for juice, and he gave them to the camels as a treat. The camels and camel babies followed him around the yard as a sign of affection (and, of course, to get more treats). My second son is very much a free spirit. He’s the kind of kid that stuck his hands into the luggage conveyor belt at the Casablanca airport at the start of the trip, getting a cut on his hand.
Of course, our worry meter went off the charts at the time, wondering what kind of germs he would pick up from that little episode. (A lot of travel is done through any airport, but Casablanca, Morocco is a big hub of travel for all of Africa, not the most hygienic of all places in the world.) But everything turned out OK with no adverse effects. So even at 4 years old, he was a handful on the Morocco trip. Morocco tours are my absolute favorite.
The adventure of touring Morocco
I’ve also observed other tourists in Morocco, they were doing some adventures.My two sons together helped each discover the adventure that was always ahead. One time, we were running a bit late getting to the desert for a sunset camel ride. The camels and guide were already prepped and waiting when we pulled up to the desert auberge. I barely had time to turn around when I noticed my kids were already mounted on the camels and off on their desert ride before I even got my stuff out of the car.
I also noticed that they did not even look back or ask for us! Their trek had already started, and they were loving it. My mother-in-law was with us on this trip and was a worrywart. She was stunned that the kids were allowed to just take off on a camel caravan without our supervision or us going with them. As I mentioned, we had been to Morocco many times by then, and going on the camels was not a big whoop anymore.
Morocco desert tours are fast-paced and since we were running late, getting us ready would have put the rest of the camel caravan even more behind schedule. So you snooze, you lose. If you run late, the rest of the group will take off without you. It’s their vacation, too, and they don’t want to waste it waiting for you.
So we drove out in the 4X4 into the desert to the meeting point with the camel group. My mother-in-law then spent the next hour or so looking at the dune where the camels should arrive to see that the kids were coming. They finally arrived safe and sound and giddy from their experience.We joined them in the dunes for a spectacular sunset before the boys started rolling around in the sand and down the dunes, making sand angels when they landed at the bottom. The sand gets everywhere, even places you forgot you had places. This also goes back to show how safe children are in Morocco, how excellent and understanding the Moroccan staff is, and that it helps if your children have an adventurous spirit and Morocco travel guide. Morocco guided tours are always best.
Street food attractions in Morocco
There are also other tourists in Morocco, I’ve noticed. But one of my favorite memories of traveling with my boys is how easy it is for them to make friends. We were staying in a small village near the Todra Gorge when they spotted a small group of children playing near the riad we were at.
Five dollars worth of candy from the corner store for them to hand out, and our boys and the village children were all best friends, running through the streets, chasing chickens, petting goats, and even riding donkeys. I kept a watchful eye, but it was no more than kids having fun until the streetlights came on, no different than at home.
Something to know about when traveling in Morocco with kids is that they will most likely get sick for one reason or another, and this is normal, to be expected, and doesn’t have to be a big deal. This actually applies to everyone traveling to Morocco for the first time. Something will get the best of you no matter how careful you are. It is not just food that can make you sick. The Moroccan Tourist Office created a catchy slogan, “Morocco, a Feast for the Senses.” And it very much is. However, sometimes, it can also be a bit overwhelming, becoming “An Assault on the Senses.” By Morocco’s walking tour you will notice that There are many wonderful smells like the tajine cooking for your lunch or dinner, mint tea brewing at every shop you pass by, fresh bread baking in the countless local bakeries, or rose water splashed on after a meal.
But in that fantastic tajine or other dishes may be spices that your body is unfamiliar with and rebels against. That aromatic mint tea is offered by the same shop vendors who constantly nag you to buy something at their shop is loaded with sugar and caffeine. The fragrant rose water produced in the Dades Valley of Morocco seems to be infused into everything and is used by everyone everywhere in gratuitous amounts.
Morocco’s mountains and their adverse effects
As you travel over the mountains, the high altitude may get to you, especially if you come from a low-altitude environment. The climate in Morocco is quite dry as it is an African desert country which may cause nose bleeds for those from more humid climates. As a desert country, Morocco can also be very hot depending on the time of the year you go.
Dehydration is frequent for visitors who do not pay attention to their body’s needs. Other smelly, noisy things to keep an eye on are the motor scooters zipping around the Marrakech Medina that can easily knock you down, contributing to your stress and worry for your and your group’s wellbeing. The guide will remind you to keep to the right side of the street to let the scooters zip past you with a cloud of exhaust in their wake.
Discovering Fez and Essaouira, Morocco
While making Fez day tours. There are various other nasty smells emanating from the Medina, animals, or factories you may pass by. Of particular note is the tannery in the Fez medina. The strong, unpleasant smell comes partially from the pigeon feces in which the raw animal hides are tanned. It also comes from the wet fur scraped off the hides and discarded.
Though seeing the whole process in action makes the visit worth it as this is such a rare thing to see in person. As you enter the tanneries, they’ll usually provide you with a big mint sprig to hold up to your nose to cover the stench of the tannery (the seasoned travelers usually forgo the mint and make quips about it not being that bad while fighting back nausea).
Even knowing all that, my boys just plain threw up in several places in Morocco and then just kept going. They were still ecstatic about doing the best tours in Morocco. One time, in a 5-star riad, my youngest son threw up on a nice fancy rug (and me) as I ran to the bathroom with him over my shoulder, hoping to make it in time before this little mishap. We did not make it in time. But the staff just laughed it off, made us feel at ease, and cleaned everything up (you’d better believe we tipped very well that evening). On that same trip, my older son got sick in the town of Essaouira after consuming what seemed to be his body weight in that fantastic Essaouira seafood. So he threw up in the street’s gutter, took a drink of water to rinse out his mouth, and kept walking along with us with renewed vigor.
Moroccan considerations and approaches
You can do a few things to combat some of these adverse factors. First, bring some various meds that have worked for you before to weather these little storms. Fast-acting anti-diarrhea meds are a super item to have on hand. Anti-nausea meds could help with the long car treks or even strong smells in town. Another item you could use is a turban or a scarf you could hold up to your nose to keep out the exhaust fumes in the cities.
Make sure to bring Pedialyte powder (not Gatorade) for both kids and adults (available in Walmarts throughout the US). Headaches, nausea, fatigue, and sore muscles are the warning signs of dehydration, and mixing up a bottle of Pedialyte will get everyone back on track in a hurry. Don’t count on being able to find the same medicines or Pedialyte you get in the States as quickly in Morocco. Although a rapidly progressing country, finding the stores that have what you need and then working through the language barrier will only take time away from your travels in Morocco.
At the end of each day, take advantage of the facilities and calmness of your accommodations. Relaxing at the hotel or riad and getting plenty of rest should help with jetlag, fatigue, and stress in a new environment.Speaking about stress, for the uninitiated, a simple stroll down the street can be a stressful running of a gauntlet of aggressive and sometimes obnoxious vendors. Of all the things to bring to Morocco, the most important is a good sense of humor.
You don’t have to run past or look away, just have fun and feel free to banter back. The shopkeepers are just trying to make a living, and after the hard-sell routine, they’re very decent and even fun people. But definitely, always keep yourself hydrated and drink even when you are not that thirsty.
Perhaps the only advantage of traveling with small children is that their clothes are relatively small. This allows you to bring quite a few changes of clothes. This is good in case of the various possible mishaps as described above.
But if you run out of clean clothes, you will also be able to have laundry done along your route. Just ask the staff at your accommodations what the arrangements are for getting it done. You will need to give them some time to complete this as the process is not instantaneous, so plan ahead.
Fun ways to make a child’s trip more enjoyable
One recent improvement that has made traveling for children even easier during long transfers is having an unlimited Wi-Fi hotspot in the van. Morocco’s tourist attractions, dramatic vistas, snow-covered mountains, rolling sand dunes, and seeing people going about their daily lives can only hold a child’s attention for so long.
Now with the Wi-Fi-enabled vans, when they need a break to relax, they can log on, surf the web, chat with friends at home, or even watch a movie or two when a long drive loses their interest. Oh, and have them bring their earbuds for everyone’s sake.
Choose your tour company wisely
So when I’m asked if traveling to Morocco is suitable for children, my answer is absolutely yes. With a few precautions and advanced preparations, it’s almost even easy. Would I do Morocco on our own with kids, driving ourselves, finding accommodations, contacting guides, etc.? Probably not. Choosing the best Morocco travel agency for best Morocco tours helps me with a pre-arranged tour, driver, guides, and accommodations all in place before you even arrive, the stress levels go way down, and if the adults aren’t worried, it’s easier for the children to enjoy the experience.
And although I’ve been to Morocco many times, seeing it through my son’s eyes has brought back a spirit of adventure and magic that even the most seasoned traveler will be energized and fascinated by.